The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties is once again offering low and moderate income families free tax filing assistance.

Carlos Rodriguez, Foodbank Executive Director (Rosetta Key Townsquare Media NJ)

However, when talking to Foodbank Executive Director Carlos Rodriguez, you learn that helping folks file their taxes is just a small piece of a comprehensive approach at ending food insecurity in the bi-county region.

Rodriguez said the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, also known as VITA, was started in response to Superstorm Sandy when a lot of people found themselves struggling and in a lower income bracket because of the storm.

"You know on average for a family of three or more children, they can receive a refund with the earned income tax credit that's as high as $6,044. This is money that can really make a difference in a family's life and it's money that if you don't file it, you're not gonna get it," Rodriguez explained.

The Foodbank is celebrating it's 30th Anniversary this year but Rodriquez said after 30 years, the crises of folks not having enough food for their families has turned into a chronic problem. It's a problem that has led them to look deeper into how they assist families, leading them to connect families to a host of programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Navigators to assist them with registering for Affordable Health Care as well as the tax filing program.

"Our staff are trained Navigators, the are IRS certified preparers, they're very well versed in how to submit SNAP applications as well and these are just among a number of different programs and benefits that we can connect low-income and working families with," Rodriguez said.

The tax preparation assistance isn't just offered at the Foodbank's Neptune site. VITA volunteers work out of a number of locations through out Ocean and Monmouth Counties with varying office hours. You can get their schedule and a list of the documents you need to bring with you at

Income Support Program Mgr. Dennis Vega & VITA, R.Key Townsquare Media